Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to do more of what you love

Paul Ridge. Photo by Adam. 2016

Recently, I was featured in the corporate Wellness Newsletter of my workplace. Answering the questions for that interview reminded me that I used to blog regularly. I enjoyed blogging. Why did I stop? Various reasons as reasons usually go.

Now re-reading my last blog entry from one year ago, I’m pleased to report that whatever I had predicted for myself actually followed through. I completed all planned races. I continued with my mountain skills pursuits and I checked-off projects from an ever growing list of objectives. 

Well. If you adventure with me, then you're of the same mindset that playing outside is the best thing ever. If you follow me through social medias, then you've liked a lot of mountain photos. I don't know if you get these types of requests but my message box is filled with questions like how do you find time to get out so much? ... do you work? or I'm getting into backcountry skiing, what gear do you recommend I buy? and can you send me your weight lifting program?.

Anyway. In that Wellness Newsletter interview, I concluded the last question saying the best advice ever given to me was to “do more of what you love”. Which kind of implies that I'm doing just that.

For the most part, I like work. No. I like working, but I don’t love what I’m doing right now as a career. It feels like my corporate office job segregates pieces of me. It's like I lead two separate lives. There's me and there's ghost of me. 

So, I need to do more of what I love, otherwise my Instagram Gallery would be a hoax.

Mt Brunswick. Photo by Audrée. 2016.

Have you noticed that when you start shopping for a van or a backpack or a new waterproof jacket, suddenly you start seeing vans, backpacks, jackets everywhere?  

I'm shopping for a new life. And I’ve been noticing the type of life I want to lead. You've guessed it, I see it everywhere. I'm surrounded by awesome people. People with crazy plans who make big heroic changes so they can live a life they love - and they're making a difference while doing it. 

I have a plan. I'll give you a hint: It has something to do with the questions I regularly get asked.

You can expect a new website and a lot of activity in my social media feed ... I'll be looking for your feedback, suggestions and questions as I make progress in this journey, learning how to do more of what we love. 

Below is that Wellness Newsletter feature from my workplace interview for your interest: 

Interview March 2017

How did you start racing?

It started with cycling in the late ‘90s. I competed in cross-country mountain biking, on a team, at the elite level across North America for about 8 years. I wanted to be a professional cyclist but couldn’t make the leap to full-time. Leaving the security of my office job seemed terribly uncertain. 

"... my dreams would not materialize unless I committed to a huge change or hugely changed what I wanted."

I knew other athletes who went for it. At the time, cycling wasn’t something you could earn a decent living on in Canada. Even with national team status and sponsor contracts, amateur athletes tend to work part-time and train 6-10+ hours a day. Stories of friends’ struggles discouraged me. I wondered if a refocus of my energy would address this lingering dissatisfaction creeping-in. Truth was, my dreams would not materialize unless I committed to a huge change or hugely changed what I wanted. Resigned, I went back to school, completed a Master’s program and thereafter transitioned into another profession entirely. I put the bike away.

The career change brought me to Vancouver and to an exciting opportunity with VANOC. It was an unpredictable schedule with little or no time for fitness goals while working for the Olympics (ironically), so I started to run as a sanity outlet. Running was a flexible way to sneak-in workouts in sporadic intervals. With running, there is little equipment required and you get great value from your efforts.

Despite workload I joined and managed to keep up with a strong running club, VFAC. We trained for road racing on the track but sometimes in Stanley Park on the trails, which was for me, much more enjoyable than pounding on pavement. Being on trails felt familiar. The forest reignited joys I had experienced in my past life as a mountain-biker. Soon after, I was introduced to the North Shore Mountains. Then, someone mentioned this race the “Knee Knacker”…

Swan Falls with Jamie. Photo by Adam. 2016.

What was the last race you did and how’d it go?

Fast-forward seven years. Since that initial Knee Knacker, I’ve competed in over ten 50km trail and mountain running events, a handful of 50milers and most recently, last season I raced the FatDog 70mi distance (114km) in Manning Park and finished 2nd female overall.

What one or two things do you do in your training that are keys to your success?

I love to race and to suffer. Yet over the years, my interaction with the mountains has shifted from the competing aspects of the sport to more of a relationship with the outdoors and adventure. My motivation has changed but my training philosophy has remained the same.

Key to my success? It’s corny but seriously, just aim for balance. I train to be a well-rounded athlete.

My training program is cyclical, split into a winter season and a summer season. And it is also periodized within the winter/summer cycles, sectioned into 6-12 week building blocks.

In the winter, I practice ski touring in the alpine backcountry and cross-country ski (skate-ski). I run short distances, max 20km per week for maintenance. For strength, functional mobility and agility, I lift weights 2-3 times a week and regularly rock climb at an indoor gym.

In the shoulder season, I’ve started to incorporate mountaineering as a fun transition into the trail-running season, where my run mileage gradually increases to 30-50km per week.

In summer I reduce time in the gym, time cross training, and increase mileage specific to an event, some weeks running up to 150km. This year, I’m putting less emphasis on races and more on adventure runs – which are usually ultra long distances (30-55km per day) with a lot of elevation over several days. These adventures are self-supported, meaning I run with a 20litre pack (see video of the 10 essentials for backcountry runners). For example last year, I ran sections of the Sunshine Coast trail and circumnavigated Mt Hood.

There is pleasure in the pathless woods;
There is rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where non intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man less, but Nature more…
– Lord Byron

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I pay close attention to injury prevention measures, nutrition management and active recovery. It’s not always possible to strip away the stressful agents in life, and stress does affect me negatively if I let the triggers nag me too long. So, choosing to unwind by stretching to music for an hour instead of crashing on the couch to Netflix is usually a healthier option.

I draw inspiration from people who take those better options time after time as a way of being. They have invested in reflecting on their choices and are forever adapting. Right now, two big influencers are friends, adventurer ChrisBrinlee, Jr. and mountain runner ChrisJones.

Brandywine Falls with Audrée and Adele. 2016.

What is the best advice you were ever given? And what advice would you give others who want to start racing and/or adventuring?

Enlisting coachestrainers, and having high-quality training partners is essential. All the local run shops, including MEC offer training groups and clinics. Registering for an event is a strong motivator. My favourite series for advanced runners is CMTS and for an introductory, family-friendly race series there is 5Peaks. Recently, I have been spending time with a mountain mentor to grow areas where I have gaps and to push hard beyond belief.

The best advice ever given was “do more of what you love” ...

Instagram: chloe_longstride

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